After the Romans left Britain was divided into a number of Celtic kingdoms that fought with each other and, increasingly, with the Germanic invaders we know as "Anglo-Saxons." The most famous alleged defender of Celtic Britain, of course, is King Arthur, but he's more myth than history. What catches my imagination is The Gododdin (Welsh original, by Aneurin), an epic lament for the band of men who gathered at Eiddyn (Edinburgh, main town of Gododdin) around the year 600 and headed south for a last-ditch battle against the Saxons at Catraeth (probably Catterick in northern Yorkshire), where they were wiped out. One contingent was from Elmet (Elfed in the poem), a kingdom that had been holding the line against the invaders in what's now Yorkshire; once Elmet was conquered, there was no stopping them. And all of this history was basic to the poetry of David Jones, one of the best unknown poets of the previous century, and important to one of the best known, Ted Hughes (book with photos). "Men went to Catraeth, familiar with laughter. The old, the young, the strong, the weak."
Forgotten vocabulary. Words and phrases from an earlier era, the early Nineteenth century. Some slang too. (via the Presurfer)
Ancient walls built as a defence against marauders provide a rich source of pickings for relic hunters (a photo essay).
That's the Sound of the Man Working on the Chain Gang Among all genres of American folk music, prison songs may be the most viscerally compelling. They evolved from plantation songs and field hollers of slaves in the American South before the civil war (whose origins can in turn be traced to patterns found in the music of West Africa) but their tone and content is quite different. Limitless in length, bitter and pained, offering little hope of freedom or redemption, these songs were first heard during Reconstruction. Harsh and unevenly enforced laws incarcerated legions of black American men, consigning them to long sentences of labor for minor offenses like insult, fistfighting, and shoplifting. To shore up a tanking Southern economy, prisons leased convict labor to plantation owners as a low-cost replacement for slave labor. When reform efforts brought that to an end, state governments became the contractors. Sweetheart deals awarded lucrative contracts to prisons to provide labor for rebuilding the railroads and highways of the war-destroyed South. Slavery in all but name, these work conditions gave rise to a body of music that is one of the most significant antecedents of the blues. In hundreds of variants, cadenced to axe-fall, hoe stroke, or the drop of a maul, the songs set a working pace a man could sustain from dawn to dusk, while remaining fast enough to satisfy an armed 'Captain' on horseback.
Iraqi peacekeepers sent to the Scottish border... 1600 years ago. The Notitia Dignitatum, the Roman equivalent of an organisation chart for the imperial bureaucracy in the fifth century, contains a reference to soldiers from the Tigris stationed at Hadrian's Wall. More on the Notitia here; more on Hadrian's Wall here, including a 3D tour of a fort near the Wall, and tablets discovered at another fort (including a request by a commanding officer for "more beer").
McKinley Assassination Ink: "The goal [...]: to gather the largest possible selection of full-text primary source documents relating to the assassination of William McKinley and the immediate aftermath of that event, including the succession of Theodore Roosevelt to the presidency and the incarceration, trial, and execution of [anarchist] assassin Leon Czolgosz."
Phisick - Beautifully presented historical medical instruments. Check out the French Nasal Rectificateur. Take a look these ear trumpets too: 1, 2, 3, 4. [Click on the images in the top strip for alternate views and close-ups]
The Domesday Book is online. This book is "a great land survey from 1086, commissioned by William the Conqueror to assess the extent of the land and resources being owned in England at the time, and the extent of the taxes he could raise. The information collected was recorded by hand in two huge books, in the space of around a year." You can browse it here. The site also has some background info both on England at the time and the book itself.
Auroras have had many explanations throughout history. Now, science has answered many questions, thanks to spending a lot of time in Antarctica taking time-lapse films.
Nauru was once a lovely place. Despite its small size and isolation, Nauru's story is one of monumental dimensions. Things have gotten pretty grim. But it looks like Naurans may get a reprieve of sorts. Will it be pretty?
Framing Canada is an online exhibit of early Canadian photography. Some images are quintessentially Canadian; others range from the sublime to the ridiculous. One picture just might settle a contentious debate once and for all. Most of the collection is organized into topical photo essays. [More inside]
So my mum-in-law was visiting Dover Castle last week, when she spotted this 1940s replica postcard which she sent to me. It talks about how the stalwarts of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) supposedly took "bile beans" for things like nervous debility and "female complaints." This term always sounds (at least to me) so quaint and condescending; a search on it led me to the quackery of patent medicine, one of the prime purveyors of which was Lydia E. Pinkham (“Only a woman can understand a woman's ills.”). I'd feel smug and advanced about how far we've come if only it weren't for the resurgence of the term on herbal remedies sites. We may have come a long way baby, but we've still got some work to do in women's medicine, at home and abroad apparently.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. A key documentary artifact of the uprising is Magyarország lángokban (Hungary in Flames) [embedded .wmv], partly composed of footage shot by two young film school students using whatever equipment they could find. Narrowly avoiding capture by the Communists, the duo smuggled 10,000 feet of film out of the country in spare tires and potato sacks; there's much more to the story, but better to hear Vilmos tell it in his own words. [.rm] Eventually, they made their way to America, where László Kovács, ASC (Five Easy Pieces, Ghost Busters, more) and Vilmos Zsigmund, ASC (Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Deliverance, more) became two of the most prolific cinematographers in Hollywood history. [more inside]
Bought from a slave trader and put on display at the Bronx zoo: the strange, sad story of Ota Benga, a Pygmy with filed teeth brought from the Congo to America in 1906. Here are a couple of contemporary news accounts of the controversial exhibit. After the zoo, Benga tried to make a life in America, studying to be a missionary. "But what he really wanted to do was to tell everyone in this country that his people were dying, and why. I think he thought that eventually they'd listen. But they never did. That, to me, is the real tragedy." In 1916, at the age of 32, he built a ceremonial fire, chipped off the caps on his teeth, performed a final tribal dance, and shot himself with a stolen pistol. Creationists say the story illustrates "the racism of evolutionary theory" and "the horrors that evolutionary theory has brought to society."
Real women. The gladiator - epitome of male combat, well, not always male. The gladiatrix (mNSFW) is no myth. The evidence exists.
The Nickel Under The Foot is one of the most important songs in the history of the American theatre. The back story.
Dr. John Jeffries: Physician, Loyalist, Aeronaut is a typically delightful entry from historian J. N. Bell's blog Boston 1775.
The scientist whom history forgot: Emilie du Châtelet. Lover of Voltaire, genius without a beard, female scientist, mathematician and philosopher.
Tiki's mother takes him to see a pakeha township for the first time. One of many books available from the International Children's Digital Library.
Most people know that Abraham Lincoln was elected in 1860. However, not many people know that a man named John J. Crittenden made a last-ditch effort to amend the Constitution, as a compromise between the north and south. How would have American history have progressed if this was the 13th Amendment as opposed to this?
Between 1912 and 1948, one could win an Olympic medal by excelling in creativity rather than athletics. Works contending in this "Pentathlon of the Muses" had to be sport-related, though: see for example this gold-winning drawing by Jean Jacoby. Perhaps the most famous Olympic artist is Oliver St. John Gogarty (Google cache), after whom Joyce's character of Buck Milligan was modelled. In later years, the tradition was incorporated into the concept of a Cultural Olympiad held alongside the main event.
Los Angeles in the 1900s is a collection of newspaper articles & photographs documenting life in L.A. from 1900 to 1909. Some of the articles are funny, some tragic, all informative about what life in the very young city was like prior to the explosive growth caused by Mullholland, the Film Industry, & the freeways.
It was an important consumer product in the 18th century. Rich and poor “took” it and it was processed in several locations. Outside Bewdley, a mill was created to grind the raw material. The history of the industry is linked to early 20th century photographs, which show the abandoned and derelict mill and machinery.
The Ghetto Diary of Eli Lesky, The Fifth Horseman, the Buchewald Series, artwork by Joseph Bau; Paintings of the Hmong Migration; Visualizing Otherness - Nazi and other racist propaganda - all this and much, much more from the University of Minnesota's The Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
Love's guide to the church bells of the City of London (with sounds, peals and pictures).
Jack Jackson, writing as Jaxon, may have created the first underground comic, God Nose, in 1964. In 1969 he was one of the founders of RipOff Press. Jackson's work at that time included horror stories (in Skull Comics, RipOff's tribute to EC) and political fare. Jackson returned to his native Texas in the 70s and began work on a series of comics on Texas history. In 1979 he published Comanche Moon, the story of the abduction of Cynthia Ann Parker and of her son, the great Comanche chief Quanah Parker. Jackson was influenced by Texas History Movies, a 1920s comic strip by Jack Patton and John Rosenfeld that was compiled into booklets and used in Texas schools until the 1960s. Other works by Jackson included the story of Spanish-Americans in the war for Texas independence, the Alamo as seen from both sides, and a look at Sam Houston's relationship with the Cherokee. The subjects of Jackson's comics tended to be history's dispossessed and, in 1998, he published Lost Cause, a look at post-Civil War white Texans. Accused of racism, Jackson replied that he intended to show history as it was, not as people wanted it to have been. The Comics Reporter: "Jackson's Texas was capable of grotesquery and atrocity because Jackson's art was able to communicate extreme, transcendent moments without hesitation or shame." Aside from comics, Jackson wrote a number of books on Texas and other history, including the award-winning Los Mestenos, a study of Spanish ranching in Texas. He was a lifetime member of the Texas State Historical Society. Jackson's health deteriorated as he grew older and he suffered from diabetes and prostate cancer. On June 8, Jack Jackson committed suicide near the Stockton, Texas cemetery where his parents are buried.
Index of Medieval Medical Images Searchable collection of medieval illustrations (to the year 1500); the thumbnails can be viewed at varying magnifications. There are many more interesting online repositories devoted to the history of medical illustration--both medieval and early modern--including Historical Anatomies on the Web, Anatomia, Seeing is Believing, and Medieval Manuscripts in the National Library of Medicine.
"If anything, a civil rights background is considered a liability." Meet the politically-appointed career staffers of the Justice Dept.'s Civil Rights Division: ... the kinds of cases the Civil Rights Division is bringing have undergone a shift. The division is bringing fewer voting rights and employment cases involving systematic discrimination against African-Americans, and more alleging reverse discrimination against whites and religious discrimination against Christians. ... Thorough Boston Globe article on how the administration disbanded the hiring committee in 2002 to appoint lawyers with a very different vision of what civil rights are, and the ensuring and ongoing results.
'History on the Half Shell.' "A loaf of bread," the Walrus said, "Is what we chiefly need: Pepper and vinegar besides Are very good indeed-- Now if you're ready, Oysters (via) dear, We can begin to feed." . . . . . "O Oysters," said the Carpenter, "You've had a pleasant run! Shall we be trotting home again?' But answer came there none-- And this was scarcely odd, because They'd eaten every one.------Lewis Carroll-------
The Feather Book, digitized by and on display at McGill University: A seventeenth-century book containing illustrations of birds and men -- composed of real feathers, beaks, and claws. More information about the book and its contents and history can be read here.
History of the Israel/Paestinian conflict from a pro-Israel point of view. Like many Americans I have no real idea what's going on "over there." Also like many Americans when I need some "truthiness" in the answers to my questions, I consult Canada and the UK. NPR can be trusted up to a point (drawn from a previous thread), but it's also good to hear from the other side too.
The U.S. Navy has one. So does the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and Air Force. They're history research centers and their corresponding websites. Some are great, some aren't as great. They offer photographs of planes, soldiers, Honored Marines, and ships. Also available are official histories. The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships is interesting to peruse, but there's also oral history transcripts from Vietnam. Coast Guard fan? Everything you need to know about lighthouses.
Cat-Scan.com is one of the strangest sites I've seen in some time. I have no idea how these people got their cats wedged into their scanners, or why.
Seeing is believing : Illustrations were essential in spreading new scientific and medical ideas and it was often the case that new developments in the sciences were accompanied by corresponding developments in illustrative techniques.
The U.S. Naval Observatory Library features high-res scans of images from antique books dealing with astronomy and navigation. Wallpapers, ahoy!
London's 'flushers': "If you really thought about where you were going and what you were doing you'd either be shit scared or you wouldn't go there. We're shit shovellers. Some of the jobs I do a high percentage of the country would turn around and say: 'Poke that up yer arse mate as far as you can put it.'" The history of London's sewers. The craptacular sewerhistory.org. More entries in the Night Haunts series.
"You live in the big here. Wherever you live, your tiny spot is deeply intertwined within a larger place, imbedded fractal-like into a whole system called a watershed, which is itself integrated with other watersheds into a tightly interdependent biome. At the ultimate level, your home is a cell in an organism called a planet. All these levels interconnect. What do you know about the dynamics of this larger system around you?
30 questions to elevate your awareness (and literacy) of the greater place in which you live.
30 questions to elevate your awareness (and literacy) of the greater place in which you live.
Some old news regarding Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. Further proof that tigers don't change their stripes. Tiger Force in operated in Vietnam, led by the recently-deceased Colonel David Hackworth), with the task of out-guerilla-ing the guerillas. Their attrocities were covered up by Cheney, Rumsfeld, and James Schlesinger, who most recently headed an independent panel probing Abu Gharib. Others incidents inside...
We all have to go sometime. Frank Russo has an obsession, dead ballplayers. Some died in accidents, some were murdered, some couldn't take it anymore, and some were cursed. They were all human. (via HNT)
Teenage Hoboes in the Great Depression. During the Great Depression over 250,000 young people left home and began riding freight trains or hitchhiking across America. Most of them were between 16 and 25 years of age. Many finally found work and shelter through the Civilian Conservation Corps, a government relief project that Franklin D. Roosevelt established in 1933 as part of the New Deal. From 1933 to 1942, CCC enrollees built new roads, strung telephone wires, erected fire towers, and planted approximately 3 billion trees. By 1935, the program was providing employment for more than 500,000 young men.
From Muddy York to the Toronto of today.... My search to discover the exact age of the house I recently bought led me to the fabulous Toronto Archives. Even if you don't have the good fortune to live in Toronto and so have the ability to visit the Archives to take a free tour and check out their massive holdings, they have a whack of stuff on line. Of their million photographs dating back to 1856, over 21,000 are online. Check out some of their virtual exhibits. I couldn't begin to give you an overview of the site or even the best of its many gems, but check out Chinatown's VE day victory parade, Bay and Wellington as it was after a huge fire in 1904, old advertisements, letters and postcards (including some from the disenchanted), snapshots of a, er, less politically sensitive time (thanks, Capn!), and — inevitably! — hockey artifacts. A friend of mine makes a hobby of Toronto's history, and after this search of mine, I better understand her interest. It’s fascinating to see what lies beneath the layers of time on a surface so familiar and loved.
The heroic imagination. Benjamin Disraeli and the politics of performance.
The Information Machine, [YouTube]. This short animated film was written, produced and directed by Charles and Ray Eames for the IBM Pavillion at the 1958 Brussels World's Fair [embedded sound]. Animation by Dolores Cannata. The topic is the computer in the context of human development.
'What words say does not last. The words last. Because words are always the same, and what they say is never the same.'
90 years ago today, whistles blew around the river Somme in France as British troops prepared for an attack on German trenches. By the end of the day they had suffered 57,470 casualties. By the battle's end in November, there were over 600,000 Allied casualties, with perhaps the same number of German casualties. The Imperial War Museum has launched an online exhibition, where you can find out more about how the battle was planned, personal stories of those involved, and myths about the attack. Elsewhere you can find copies of Army reports on the first day, look at film of the attack, diaries and letters home from the troops, go on tours of the trenches, listen to contemporary songs and music inspired by the battle, and see some more modern responses.
Stanley Kubrick's "lost" first movie, Day of The Fight, has apparently been found. Assuming it's real, this 16-minute 1951 reel is the director's debut. Sadly, unless you're a fight fan, that's about all it has to recommend it.
Ever wondered what old amounts of money would be worth today? Or what you could buy with your current salary if you went back 200, 400, or 600 years? Now you can find out with a tool that converts English currency from 1270 onwards into today's prices. Based on Treasury records, it tells you that Mr Darcy's £10,000 a year would now be worth nearly £350,000, or that your house would only have to be worth the equivalent of £500 now to qualify for the vote after 1832.
i began cataloging the colors, and put the color list on the web. over time, the paint catalog turned into a web site.
In 1945-46, some of the (very few) Polish Jews who had survived the Final Solution returned -- sick, poor, wounded -- to Poland. In Elie Wiesel's words, "they had thought all too naively that antisemitism, discredited 6 million times over, had died at Auschwitz with its victims. They were wrong." In 2001 Princeton professor Jan T Gross published the story of the 1941 destruction of the Jewish community at Jedwabne, Poland, and proved how Jews were rounded up, clubbed, drowned, gutted or burned to death not by German forces as previously believed but by mobs of their own non-Jewish neighbors. Now professor Gross tells the story of the Kielce pogrom in his new book, "Fear". Of course, the Kielce butchery took place in 1946 -- more than a year after the end of WWII and defeat of Nazism. More inside.